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Douglas James Gibson was born in Moosomin, SK on December 30, 1920. He grew up in Rocanville, SK and graduated from Rocanville High School in 1940. He had five siblings: Gwen, Don, Catherine, William and Frances. From 1940 to 1942 he had various general employment and farm jobs.
In 1942 Dad enlisted in the Canadian Army Reserve Force base in Dundurn, SK where he rose to the rank of sergeant, trained as a gunner in the artillery. On March 3, 1943 he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Army regular force and was assigned to the artillery branch in the 14th Field Regiment. His service ID# was L-105372. He served in Canada, Great Britain, France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. He served in the artillery as a gunner and also as a command post technician with the 44th Gun Battery. He was trained as a surveyor and took advanced math courses. On February 5, 1946 he was discharged from the army with the rank of Gunner and was shipped back to Canada on the Queen Elizabeth liner. He was onboard this ship on Christmas day and we have the menu of the Christmas meal he was served.
After his discharge from the army Dad returned to Rocanville where he was employed with the Village of Rocanville as the Secretary-Treasurer. While in Rocanville he had many other jobs, served on many boards, and held many volunteer positions within the community and the United Church. We found Dad’s certificate of membership and First Communion with the Rocanville United Church dated April 5, 1953.
On September 16, 1950 Dad married Isabel Luella McLean at Ellisboro, SK. They had four children; David (1952), Fraser (1955), Bruce (1958), and Margaret (1960).
In 1960 Dad moved his family to 628 Creighton Ave. in Creighton, SK where he took up employment as the Town Administrator for the Town of Creighton. During his time in Creighton he served on many boards and had many volunteer positions, both in the community and in the United Church.
In 1982 Dad resigned as Administrator of the Town of Creighton. In 1983 he was hired by the Town of Creighton as an Advisor to the Town Council and the office staff. He retired from this position in 1984 and thus ended his employment career, but not his volunteer service.
In 2007 Mom and Dad moved from their house on Creighton Ave. to a senior’s duplex on Elander Ave. In 2017 they moved to the Personal Care Home in Flin Flon.
On March 1, 2018 Dad lost the love of his life when Isabel passed away. On January 14, 2022 his daughter, Margie, passed away.
After a long and productive life Dad passed away on January 5, 2024 at the age of 103.
Here are some of the things that Dad was involved with in Rocanville:
Secretary-Manager – Rocanville Farmers Ltd
Secretary-Manager – Rocanville Rural Telephone Company
Secretary-Treasurer – Rocanville Village School District #932
Secretary-Treasurer – Rocanville School District #22
Secretary-Treasurer – Cambridge School District
Insurance Agent and license issuer
Fire Brigade member
Church Board member
President and secretary of Rocanville Legion Branch
President and Secretary of the Community Club
Secretary of the Curling Club
Health Region Board member
Moosomin Union Hospital Board member
SUMA executive member
Dad was a man who was actively involved in his community, and that involvement did not stop when we moved to Creighton. His community involvement in Creighton included:
Community Club executive member
Frequently on Coroner’s Juries during the 1960’s
Community College Board member
Church Board member
North Sask Seniors board member
Creighton Housing Authority board member
Intermunicipal Planning and Development Committee member
North East Saskatchewan Cottage Owners Association member
Dad was an active curler curling until well into his 80’s
Bruce and I found some of Dad’s professional certificates:
Volunteer Fireman’s Training School dated March 6, 1958
Junior and senior non-commissioned officer certification
Local government administration certification from the U of S
Class “A” Town Clerk certificate from Department of Municipal Affairs
Life Member of Urban Municipal Administrators of Saskatchewan
Dad’s medals and war awards included:
1939-45 Star (six or more months active duty)
France and Germany Star (service in France, Belgium, Holland or Germany)
Defence Medal (six or more months service in Britain)
Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with Clasp (the clasp (silver bar) was awarded for 60 days service outside Canada)
War Medal 1939-45 (service for 28 or more days)
Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal
Operation Overlord Medal (issued by the town of Caen on the 50th anniversary of D-Day)
Thank you Canada medal from Holland
Dad was selected for a medal from France honouring his participation in D-Day in 1944
He was a lifetime member of the Rocanville Branch #70 of the Legion
Some of the memories we have of Dad telling us:
When they were putting electricity into Rocanville when he was in Grade 1 how he hid from his Dad in one of the empty power pole holes
When he was a kid how one of the farmers told him that they got alternating layers of fat and meat on bacon by feeding the pigs on one day and not feeding them on the alternate days
Riding rails to Winnipeg from Rocanville looking for work
Working as a blacksmith’s assistant, digging wells, cleaning chimneys (creosote story)
Working for farmers during seeding and harvest
Trying to enlist in 1940 but medically rejected because of his poor eyesight in his right eye. In 1942 he enlisted in a reserve unit that was medically unfit and underage men to serve in Canada. In 1943 he successfully enlisted in the regular army because of a trick. When the doctor told him to cover his right eye and read the chart he did so. When the doctor told him to cover his left eye and read the chart he raised his left hand but covered his right (weak) eye and read the chart. He was accepted this time.
Dad got in trouble with the army paymaster for oversubscribing his pay to war bonds. Dad’s rather flippant reply to the paymaster was, “I have about a 50/50 chance of surviving this thing, so you should be okay.” Dad got a final payout from army for his daily stipend for war zone pay in the late 1940’s and when Bruce and I found the pay stub that Dad kept there was a final deduction of $16.87 to account for that oversubscription.
When in England Dad and a friend were loafing around and their sergeant didn’t like that, but didn’t have a task for them to do, so he told them to paint the Last Post. It’s hard to paint a bugle call, but Dad and his friend spotted a post at the top of a nearby hill, so they grabbed some whitewash and painted it white. They were in big trouble for that because a white post at the top of a hill would make an excellent aiming point for enemy bombers.
One time their sergeant approached a group that Dad was in and asked for piano players. Two of his friends volunteered that they could play the piano. The sergeant responded that their job was to move the piano from the Sergeant’s Mess to the Officer’s Mess.
Dad once related how their barracks in England was cold in the winter. They were given a daily ration of coke (coal) to heat their portion of the building. Dad’s barracks were on the second floor of the building. They knew where the coal was stored but knew that there was no way that they could smuggle extra coal past the guard at the entrance of the building, but they took note that the coal pile was directly below one of their windows. They tied a rope to a bucket and lowered it to the coal pile. They sent one of their group out to fill the bucket and thus got extra heating material for their room.
One of the rations that the Canadian army feed their troops was Bully Beef (corned beef.) One time when their battery was moving to a new location and when they stopped Dad put his unopened can of Bully Beef on the truck’s exhaust manifold to heat up. Shortly afterwards their sergeant came by to give them instructions and like good soldiers they stood at “parade rest” and paid him close attention. It wasn’t long and the unopened can exploded and the poor sergeant, believing that they were under artillery attack, dove into a muddy ditch, while Dad and his battery mates remained at parade rest and tried (unsuccessfully) not to laugh.
When the Rocanville School burned down he assisted the parents, who had purchased insurance from him to cover their personal contents, with their insurance claims.
He related how as the Secretary-Treasurer (Town Clerk) of Rocanville he was also the Village Foreman and often operated the grader. If there was a fire when he was using the grader he would have to take the grader to the fire because the water pump was on the back of the grader.
I remember how Dad acted as a sort of social worker in the early sixties enabling welfare payments to needy families.
David, Bruce and I remember going out into the bush with Dad to cut firewood, Dad cutting the wood, one of us driving the ’49 Ford ½-ton, and the other two piling wood into the truck. Dad had a chant the he would recite as he cut with the Swede saw, “comme ci, comme ca, this is how we saw”. There was more to it, but Bruce and I don’t remember the rest of it. We often argued over who would get the easy job of driving.
We remember working with Dad to build the cabin at Birch Lake.
We remember often going fishing with Dad, first with the old plywood boat and the old 5 hp Seahorse Johnson motor, the how light the newer aluminum boat was compared to the old one.
We remember Dad laying new floor tiles in the kitchen. How he carefully marked the starting spot in the center of the floor, then glued the entire floor. When he walked out to the center to lay the first tile his shoes stuck to the floor. We laughed. When he was partially done, he didn’t want to walk across the glue again so he climbed up on the counter and out the kitchen window. We laughed again.
We remember family outings to Phantom Lake, Denare Beach, blueberry and mossberry picking, trips to Rocanville and Wolseley, and camping trips with that old canvas army surplus bell tent that seemed to weigh a ton and never kept any mosquitos out.
I remember Dad being in curling bonspiels and calling me to fill in in certain games when a team member couldn’t be present.
These are just a few of the millions of memories that we have of Dad.
Dad cared for his community. As Town Administrator he was working with governments and government agencies to improve the town and help pay for these improvements. He worked with HBM&S and the City of Flin Flon for mutual planning. He tirelessly advocated for not only Creighton, but also for the surrounding area. He never asked for recognition, but was very thrilled when Creighton named a street “Gibson Way” in his honour.
Dad was an incredibly organized person. Bruce and I have marvelled over some of the records that Dad kept of his past activities. Some of these records show how much he cared for his family. He had life insurance records dating back to the 1950’s when money was in short supply. He bought War Bonds when he was in the army so that there would be money for his parents if he should be killed in action. He carefully invested in Savings Bonds and pension plans to provide for us, and then Mom and himself in their retirement.
Dad loved his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He always asked about my children and grandchildren. He often told me about how Bruce’s children and grandchildren were doing. I probably got more information about Bruce’s family from him than I did from Bruce.
Dad could be stubborn and independent, not wanting to accept help from us children, but he always was thankful for what we did do for him. He often mentioned to me how much help Margie and Bruce were to him and Mom. He sometimes complained about how much Margie fussed over him and Mom, but then would say how he didn’t know how they managed without her help.
Father, Grandfather, Great-grandfather, uncle, friend, neighbour Dad will be sorely missed and fondly remembered.
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